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Friday, July 30, 2010

Strange & Beatiful Streets. Strange & Beautiful Life

Got these pics in an emal from my Aunt Johnnie. Usually, she sends me all the funny mails that end up on my blog, Lotta Laughs. This time, though, I was deeply moved by the pics, Each one matches a mood I've had. Wanted to share them...

This looks so peaceful, doesn't it? It's a place I'd like to be when I've gotten all stressed out. Just calming.

***


I had to smile a little when I saw this one. It reminds me of the last three and a half years of my life: made up of Ups and Downs. And while it looks a little lonely (like me), there is still a reminder of beauty (like in my life)...
***
 Hmm... Traveling in uncertainty? Uncertain but covered??? A little lonely.
 ***

Just wow. Hopeful times ahead? And a nice trip to get there? Yeah.
***

 There's a message here but, like so much of life, it's going to have to be studied to be understood
 ***

 I'd want to take a walk through here when I have things to contemplate
 ***

 Feeling a little like this at the moment: cold, alone, long way to go...
 ***

 Scary. Like you have to get through it  (no matter how scary it is) if you want to get to where you're meant to be
 ***
 No words for this one
 ***
 LOL... I feel like this when I am in "peacemaker" mode. Trying to be a buffer.
 ***

 Twisty-turny. Annoying, even though you can see your way ahead
 ***

 Another lonely-but-hopeful one. God is truly an amazing artist.
 ***

 This is gonna be me AFTER all the changes I'm making. Shining, beautiful, daring - AMAZING!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inifinity

I watched this video the other day over at an excellent site called Top Documentary Films. (If you like the site as much as I do, subscribe to their feed, look them up on Twitter and Facebook and, if you can, support them!) I am using Google Video to do the embed here, so you can also check that out. 

Before you watch try to think of what your own ideas are about the subject of infinity. After I watched the video, I did some thinking of my own.

I am no mathematician (truth be told, I am struggling recently with a set of high school maths I'm doing remedial study in!) BUT - on the subject of infinity:

Infinity - if defined/illustrated by a circle- and if lines within that circle represent further infinity, then you cannot limit infinity in any way (which I thought was the point everyone assumed before I watched the video).

I guess because scientists are always expanding on theories, some of them got to the point where they decided infinity just might be limited (not infinite?) after all. Simple as I am, I still hold that infinity is infinite.

Imagine the circle I mentioned, filled with lines until there is (to us) more more room to add lines. That would mean (I am guessing) to people that infinity is limited. In my way of thinking, though, I see that even with the circle virtually blacked out with lines, infinity is not affected. We cannot limit the fine-ness of whatever instrument is used to add more lines to our circle.

Because we (mortals) are limited by the idea of the instrument that could add more lines to the circle, we have trouble imagining (or acknowledging) such an instrument.

As a Christian with a firm belief in God as the Creator of all things, I don't think I want to torture myself trying to imagine the instrument used to add more lines.  God is not limited by our limitation to understand, visualize or acknowledge. The whole idea of infinity, to me, is: God is not limited. God is infinity.

That's just me, though. Like I said, I'm no scholar. I hope you get something out of the video.

"Dangerous Knowledge" (pt1 of 2)



"Dangerous Knowledge" (pt2 of 2)


Peace
--Free

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nic-free (or trying to be!)

Here I go.... Gonna try kicking this nasty old smoking habit of mine. 

I quit once before, but I want this to be a lifetime quit (as in, adding time to my life!), and I kinda wanted to do it before I hit the 5-0 mark next year.

Here's the thing: I picked possibly the WORST time ever to quit. Right when I have all the stress in the world going on in my body. I am job hunting, trying to self-study for the SPHR cert., and I just have the usual insane, unconventional, God-is-the-only-One-in-control life!!! LOL

But. I am really going to give this a shot. Right now I am using the patch. Of course, I got the wrong ones (7mg instead of 14), so I am wearing TWO of these bad boys until I can replenish the supply... 

It's been around 12 years since I tried quitting. Now that I am on the wagon again, I am remembering some of the symptoms I have & it's so not fun. I get incredibly thirsty - for juice and tea more than for soda - and I want to keep something intense on my tastebuds. One of my niece's hit Walmart with me & I picked up some sparkling tea, Fuze, Jello and yogurt. And, oh yeah, gum. I will need lots and lots of gum. 

Other than having a case of the weirdo snackies, I also have this strange headache. It's one of those headaches you get when you have been sleeping hard and wake up just parched. Know what I mean? Well, that's the kind I have, except I didn't have to sleep to get it. It's just there, like a nagging irritation that just won't go away.

Am I cranky? Ummm... maybe a little bit. I have been just trying to keep the cranky parts to myself. Mostly, I feel a little on edge and tense. Hopefully these symptoms will only hang around briefly. I am worried about it affecting my ability to concentrate and study.  Oh boy.

I went ahead and installed this really cool app on my phone. It's called Smoker Statistics. I am giving them a shout out here because they have a Blogger blog & I think the app is amazing. (Hi there!!!) Very, very cool & motivational as heck. You plug in some info about your habit, cost, quit date, etc., and it will track progress. Reminds you (in hours/minutes) how long you've been quit for, what you've saved and even general info on the effects on your body. If you like, you can even tweet your stats. 

Now that I am kicking the habit, I am really glad that I bought that peppermint oil the other week. I had gotten it for a sore tooth, but that's all better & now I can use the oil to help with these headaches and concentration.

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you guys the fact that I am trying to quit the habit. Keep me in your prayers & if I am ever cranky with any of you, PLEASE let me know. Just tell me to jack the attitude down a notch! LOL


Next post: All about some self-ed info I found this week, AND some links to free tv and such.


Peace
--Free


P.S.: Here are a couple of vids for encouragement in case you are trying to quit. I notice that there is a lot of confusing information between all the brochures/vids, etc that I've checked out... BUT, basically, the information is generally good news. At any rate, no smoker smokes because they think it's GOOD for them. It's just a tough habit...


This vid is very motivating...





This one, well, it's a little "dry," but ..


Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Need To Laugh!

There is something twisted in my personality that makes strange things funny to me. I have a thing about people falling, I know, I know... just not nice of me at all, but check out this vid. (My personal favorite: the girl at the 1:05 mark, trying to bust a "Risky Business" move. Hilarious!!!)



This one here is one of 3 of my favorite bad-singer vids... It's so wrong of me, but it's still funny every time I see it. LOL (It's an example of little kids mimicking instead of being sincere.)


And... my second fave bad-singer vid (I can't decide what's funniest: the guy trying to be serious or the guy who just gave up and rolled!):


Last of all, "Oh-mazing Grace." Well, his heart was in the right place. I think. Nah, I kinda think the brother was feeling something else...


Showing Your Behind

I am a little bit ashamed of some members of my close circle of family and friends. Actually, I am a little ashamed of a lot of young folks today. For their lack of patience and humility and thankfulness to their elders. 

(Before I get going, let me exclude those young folks who have "breeders" instead of true parents. Being a parent is about what happens AFTER a child is born.)

When my mother was alive, we were taught and expected to treat "elders" a certain way. I'm pretty sure that Mom would be embarrassed by her living family.

For the things we do out of ignorance, I can understand, but for the things we do out of wanting to be grown or thinking we are "cute," I can't. And it's always the people with the most tissue-thin feelings who have the sharpest claws. People who can't stand criticism who can really dish it out. Isn't that funny - or is that just life?

How do you fix your priorities so that your friends come before your elders? How do you find it okay to put up with the crap from your friends, but the habits of your blood elders just makes the hairs on your neck stand up? 

How do you find it in you to drop those big ol' tears and talk about "missing Grammy" (or whoever your particular deceased elder was) when you can shut those tears off the minute you need to show your behind? I just have to shake my head and say, "Really, y'all? Seriously?"

When my mother was alive, there were times that I just had to grit my teeth and get behind a closed door and count to a million! (Yes, my lovable mother could be a major attitude carrier. LOL) But when I came out from behind that door, I had fixed my face into an expression that Mama wouldn't be tempted to slap off of me, and I never snapped an attitude or raised my voice. Not to Mama. I didn't roll my eyes or purse my lips. I didn't even THINK too hard about anything smart I'd want to say.  (And not just because I liked living, but because of RESPECT.)

I remember many things my sister and I had to give up or do without in order to have Mom be happy where she lived - which meant having her other children and grandchildren around. These things were not always of a monetary nature. Sometimes it was just a lack of privacy, or being able to lock the front door and have people knock before the came in hollering, "Hi, Grammy!!!" For the longest time, I was jealous of single friends who would say they were going to leave work, go home and light candles, put on some music and just walk around scratching their ass if they wanted. The very few times I dated (and I CAN count these instances on one hand with plenty of fingers left over!), I didn't have the luxury of inviting my date in for a drink or just to hang out while I finished getting ready. Well, let me correct that: not unless I wanted to expose my mother and children to the man or, God help him, expose the man to them! LOL

Did I wish for things to be different? Rarely. I loved what I had with my family. I treasured having my mother right there with me. Whenever I did get wistful about how my life might have been different, I just thanked God for the life I had. Yeah, life could have been different, but I would have had regrets. I don't have many regrets, not even now.

And I know that no matter how ill or cranky Mama got, she was never in any way made to feel like she was a burden. My sister taught me how to make my mother feel like she was the glue that held us all together instead of a burden to be dealt with. My sister taught me that my mother was no more a burden to us than we had ever been to her.

So, for all the young people out there, I don't know what you are suffering through. Your circumstances might be a whole lot different than mine were. But I will ask this of you: don't let a funeral creep up where you end up crying tears of shame or guilt or regret. Live and act now so that your tears will be all about the joy and the missing and the love.

Peace
--Free
--Free

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Melancholy: Just Another Word For Blue

Couldn't sleep well last night.Tossed, turned, tossed more. Watched a lot of stuff on Hulu. Love the old Bob Newhart Show. During the opening credits, there's that wonderful music that starts off kind of boppy, then mellows down as Bob gets on his afternoon train home.The setting is Chicago and while Bob is on the train, there's this brief shot of another passenger, a woman who looks like she's just had a rough day. This is the mood I was in last night: I couldn't help but wonder whatever happened to that woman. Is she still alive? How old would she be now? Still living and surviving in Chicago? 

And that music... Love it (even though if I'm in the wrong mood, it can make me sad). Here it is in the opening credits (and my favorite version):


Just makes me close my eyes and think of other routes life could have taken.
 
And here is the full play (composer: Patrick Williams). Nice.


Peace
--Free

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We Need To Name This Syndrome

A couple of lesson we all need to meditate on:

Kindness is not kindness if you have to point out that you're being kind.

Love is not love if it's all about you all the time.

There are a lot of ways to be mean. You can be outright, all out in the open mean. That way every knows you're mean. (But if you're this kind of mean, you're honest about it & you don't care that everyone knows you're mean.) Or you can be mean with a smile. Make everyone think you are being nice and sweet, but making sure you get in a little dig every now and then. I think the term is passive-aggressive. (You don't want people to know you're as mean as you are.)

When I was younger and my family traveled through the South, I remarked at some of the racial ugliness I was exposed to. My parents told me that they preferred the open racism of the South to the hidden racism of "Yankees."

That's how I feel about mean people. Why should a person get credit for being nice if they manage to be mean at the same time? People who know them lavish praise on them for being so "giving" and "open-hearted." And the person probably is, most of the time, all those good things. But... ev-ery now and then.... That mean comes out. That part of them that has to mention how long-suffering they are. "Oh, look at me. I'm so good to you and ... " *sigh* "... See what I have to put up with?" Or, just every now and then, they let you know in a nastier way. You know, make a little comment here or there. Things that really hurt, but on the surface don't seem all that painful.

Yeah. I think I prefer the person who is honest enough to be the mean they are. With the other type of person, the mean catches you by surprise and hurts a lot more - just because you got lulled by the prelude of "kindness."

I don't know. This is a strange and stressful world & I guess everyone reacts to stress differently. I do know that being mean isn't always about being mean. Sometimes it's about not getting the attention we want or think we deserve. Sometimes it's about not knowing how to just talk to someone about something that's bothering you. Sometimes it's just about frustration and feeling un-appreciated. Here's a trick: try pulling a person aside and having a good, tearful heart-to-heart to clear whatever bad air there might be? Or - maybe it's just easier to be mean...

Peace
--Free

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ignorance & Intelligence

The other day I skimmed an article by Alex Jones about how we (as a society) are so busy paying attention to celebrity culture that we are blind to truly important issues.

I want you to notice a couple of things about what I just said: 1 - I skimmed the article (because I was too busy trying to read a gossip rag on another site), and 2 - "by Alex Jones." I am just becoming familiar with the site InfoWars, so I don't know much about Mr. Jones. So far, he has some interesting viewpoints. Later, I am going to really check out what else he has to say. (I'm more careful now because I used to think that Matt Drudge was impartial, but, uh, NO! lol)

Anyway, whatever else Mr. Jones may have to say, he spoke a real truth about our priorities. It's as if we have forgotten that there was a time when women and minorities had to fight (and sometimes die) for knowledge and education. I believe that the celebrity media long ago figured out that people will be greedy for anything that is withheld. Celebrities have figured it out too. This is why the stage photo ops and leak info about themselves. Look how we pant after the latest "news" on current celebrities. Paparazzi and celebrity bloggers work hard to dig out hidden nuggets of information about these people & we just lap it all up. Libraries are open all week long in most places, but I don't think people are flocking there to refresh their minds on any important issues.
Am I pointing fingers at everyone else? Not without standing in the mirror first.

I am ashamed to say that I am almost totally ignorant of things going on right now in politics and business. I can't name more than a few senators or congressmen. I can't tell you right now what is going on with the handling of our military forces. I don't know what kind of legislation has been going on on The Hill (not the show, but at the Capitol). I can, however, name almost every housewife on the Real Housewives franchise. I can tell you things that would not benefit the actual quality of your life in any way, shape or form.

I am ashamed!

Most people (it's not just me, folks!) are not fully conversational in current events (outside the celebrity world), history, culture, religion (other than their own), literature (not the Zane Chronicles), etc. 

Wasn't there a movie once about an ignorant person being the only survivor of some type of global catastrophe? I remember something about him waking up in the future where everyone was dumber than he was & looking to him to enlighten them. Can you imagine if that happened to the average American today? What would they be able to tell anyone? Would they be able to reconstruct any of our history? I don't know how much use I would be? How about you?

Anyway, the more I thought of the huge gaping holes in my own education, the worse I felt. Age is not an excuse. Doesn't matter that I am closing in on 50 years. Doesn't matter if you are just 5 years out of high school. Money isn't an excuse. While not everyone can attend college, there are a lot of free resources for anyone within reach of a computer or library.

I did a little research on "autodidacticism," which is self-education. Interesting and irresistible.

In case you are also interested in improving yourself by this method, I found some starter resources. I will be listing a more complete list on my Tracks blog, but in the meantime, check out these:
  • Self-Made Scholar - has a list of classes. Have not checked these out myself 
  • Self-Made Scholar - detailed list of resources (including open courseware from places such as Yale and MIT
  • About.Com - under "explore topics," look up Grammar & Composition, Mathematics or whatever other subject you're interested in (including languages)
  • Wikiversity - create an account to access a bunch of resources
  • A How-To -  of pursuing self-learning (this is in PDF)
  • Fathom - a resource presented by Columbia University
  • HowStuffWorks - tells you, well - how stuff works. Love this site
In addition to that, do your own searches. I used search terms such as, "self education," "learning how to _____," etc.

If you have a smart phone that allows you to download applications, you can search for all sorts of useful tools. On the Motorola Backflip (droid software), I checked out the marketplace and found (free) apps for learning Japanese, studying and practicing state capitals, improving memory. I even found an app called the MBA test bundle (shrug)...

The point is, you (and I) don't have to be ignorant unless we just want to be. Your parents probably already told you this, but there is a difference between ignorant and dumb. Dictionary.com (another great resource) defines the terms:

  • Ignorant  –adjective
    1. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
    2. lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
    3. uninformed; unaware.
    4. due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.
  • Dumb –adjective
    1. lacking intelligence or good judgment; stupid; dull-witted.
So, an intelligent person can be ignorant in some areas, and ignorant can be fixed. Dumb people, in my opinion, are those (even thinking themselves intelligent) who don't want to be "fixed."

Anyway, that's my little rant for today.

Peace
--Free
 

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Public Face and Character

I am always amazed by people.

Lately, I have done blog posts and worked on other pieces about young people. Young people and their attitudes, young people trying to be "grown" people...

Today, though, I have to get on the grown folks.

People get full of themselves. They get comfortable with what God has blessed them with and act everyday as though it can't all be taken away from them. Go into any public place - store, office, church - and you can watch people being, well - full of what they think they are. They project an image of what they think other people want to see (or will be impressed by) instead of being sincere and real and useful.

As an example of people putting on a false face: I was sitting in the waiting area of a doctor's office the other day and I noticed the way the three ladies at the reception desk spoke to patients checking in. They all had this fake, chirpy way of speaking. One of the ladies would do a cheer of "Yay!" whenever a patient's buzzer sounded to let them know they could go back to the doctor. "Yay!" or "Tada!" It was a little bit irritating because the way she was acting did not seem to fit her persona. I mean, I just didn't picture her at home, talking to her family that way. "Dinner's ready. Yay!"... I imagine if she could have watched herself later on camera, she'd have wondered: "What the heck was my problem?" or "Do I really act like that?" (I don't think I'd want to see myself on hidden cam a lot of times, though it might be useful to keep me in check!)

The more I watched these women, the more I realized they were doing something that we all do when we are the public face of a business. We put away our "real" selves and go into character. Public face/Private face. Public me/Private me. Like teachers tell children: "Use your 'indoor' voice."

(Funny sidenote: My siblings and I used to find it hilarious that my mother could be yelling at one of us like a banshee but stop to answer the phone in the most polite voice ever. She'd go from drill sergeant and ready to kick butt to "hel-lo?" in two point three seconds...)

Why do we have separate personas and faces to present in one situation versus another? Shouldn't who we are be who we are all the time? Why do we act the way we do for one set of eyes and act differently for another set? (Actually, I get it that we are supposed to be a little less "relaxed" in public than at home. This is why we sensible folks don't walk around the grocery store in hair rollers and bath slippers... Being publicly decent is not what I'm talking about here, and I am glad that some of us don't show the "real" us. I have some family members who are "real" all the time, and I am terrified to go into the wrong public place with them. Usually when people boast that they are "keeping it real," they mean they are being ignorant. I won't even get into that right now. )

I guess what I am really talking about is how we lose honesty in our basic behavior when we are in certain situations. For instance, the other day, when texting someone I haven't seen in a long while, they signed off by calling me "kiddo." Here's the thing: I am older than this person - not by a lot, but we are pretty much neck-and-neck in the "grown" department. I think that their choice of wording has to do with their own sense of importance. Like patting me on my pitiful little head and saying, "Look at me, I'm all wise and such, kiddo." I had to laugh a little because that kind of behavior - which is meant to make a person look wiser and more mature - shines light on a person's mindset and true character.

Anyway, like I said, I am always amazed by people. I would love for someone who is really rich and powerful to show go undercover as a "regular" person somewhere in a workplace and just see how they are treated. Then, some months down the road, expose who they really are. Be an interesting study to contrast how people treated them before and after, wouldn't it?

I will leave you with this: always treat people, truly, the way you would want to be treated. No matter how comfortable you are in life right now, things have a funny way of going lopsided in a heartbeat. You say you have a reason for treating someone a certain way? They are silly or they wronged you at some point in the past and now you are gonna "show them?" Okay. Maybe down the road, your kids or some other loved one is going to be on the receiving end of that "show me" attitude. Think about it people. The way you treat someone could be the way you get treated.

Peace
--Free

P.S.: On a personal note, a friend and I are in the germination stages of working out an exciting creative venture. I will keep you posted as things go along. In the meantime, keep prayers going up for me. God is good all the time & He put us here to be ambassadors of His goodness, mercy and love!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Just Shaking My Head...

I just watched these videos & my reaction was to suck my teeth and shake my head regretfully and go, "Oooh.. Prince. Um, you're not sounding like you are well, brother..."

When you watch these, I'd be REAL curious to know what you think. Here is what I thought:

  •  I never noticed Kevin Smith before - probably because I don't go to the movies - but he is such an incredibly funny guy. Now I DO want to see his work. And I love his appreciation for gratitude. So many people today have lost the whole concept of gratitude. So, Mr. Smith, I now have a big ol' platonic crush on you!
  • Celebrities who get really, really big (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince...) must get lost in all that fame and lose their grounding. Think about it - they all seem to get a little nuts in ways that non-famous people don't. Their fans start to worship them & the celebs get god complexes and seem to live in a universe all their own.
  • Fame seems to be an escape from something for them. Not the routine things "regular" folks struggle against. If they had family dysfunction, it was severe (or so they make it seem). If they had sexual confusion, it is extreme (or so they make it seem). So on and on. 
  • Some celebs seem so cliche. All that money and fame & no joy in their lives that we can see.
  • Prince is supposed to be JW, right? So, what's his fascination with Jesus? I didn't think Jesus was a big part of their belief system... (Don't get me wrong. I am GLAD that he is giving Jesus some thought because maybe he will think enough to get on track with Who and What and Why Jesus is. Cos I am a Christian.)
Basically, hearing this story just confirms something I have thought about extreme fame. I'm sure that there are all kinds of ways to sell your soul for things. People do it when they choose certain things over other things in life. Not just "non-Christians," but all kinds of people, including preachers and teachers and parents and friends. When you come to a cross-road in life and make a certain choice, you just may have sold out in the deepest & most eternal way. It's as if you are being asked, "How bad do you want this?" (whatever "this" is). Some of us just might want it bad enough to choose it over all else.

Anyway, that's my little rant. I just want you to check out this vid.









Peace
--Free

P.S.: He might be crazy, but Prince still has the greatest love song ever: "Adore."

Friday, July 02, 2010

Living This Moment

When I was young, everything seemed so endless: time, love, chances - my own youth.  Being young didn't blind me to the truth about how precious any of those things are, I just was not looking to see it, was not even aware that there was such a truth to be searched out.

When I was young, I was everything I was supposed to be: hopeful and free of a lot of the lessons life had planned for my future. I was able to enjoy being young. That's such a blessing - to let the young be young. If they live long enough, they will have to endure lessons that not everyone can survive whole.

So many kids today have a lot on their shoulders. To me, some young people are old before their time and they seem so hard and bitter already. Where are the people who are supposed to be looking out for them so that they can be kids? Where are the people who are supposed to make them be kids while they still are kids? (Mamas, Daddys, Grammys - whoever - please put some of these kids in check. Don't let them "be grown" before they are ready to be!)

Because I had good parents & even extended family to keep my little behind in check when I was young, I enjoyed being a child. It's hard for me to believe it now, but I can remember not knowing what it was to be disappointed in people and situations. I remember believing that everyone had whole and good hearts. I remember thinking that nothing could hurt someone bad enough that they could die of a broken heart. But, then, I also believed for a very long time that death only came to the body. I was older before I learned that hope and courage could be killed just as dead as any corpse laid in a grave.

My mother used to say to me: "Life will teach you lessons," and "Lessons will be learned." How right she was. Lessons surely will be learned - whether you want to be taught or not.

Another thing my mother taught me (a lesson I didn't grasp until later on in my life) is: grief won't kill you, despair and heartbreak won't kill you. Losing faith in behind any of things is what will kill you.

So what's my point? No point, really. I was just thinking of younger folks who haven't  yet gone through seriously tough times, or are just now starting to hit those tough times. I was wondering what I could say to them for encouragement.

Just enjoy this time and this moment, this breath. Enjoy the people who love you right now, the laughter and joy you have now. Enjoy the things that God has blessed you with THIS day. Because (again, as my mama used to say! LOL): your next breath is not promised to you.

Peace
--Free